Caribbean Tropical Biology in Puerto Rico
In winter session 2013, the Department of Biology of the University of Massachusetts Boston will offer a three-week course designed to introduce students to the basics of Caribbean tropical ecology, evolution and conservation biology that will take place in the United States territory of Puerto Rico. The course will involve a mixture of classroom and field-based learning, and include excursions to all the major ecosystems of the Caribbean tropics. The program will be taught by Liam J. Revell, professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Alberto R. Puente-Rolón, of Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Recinto Arecibo.
Topics of particular focus during the course include the following three areas:
- Evolution of tropical island faunas. Tropical islands often represent hotspots of endemism, harboring unique species found on the island but nowhere else in the world. In the course, students will learn about Caribbean flora and fauna from an explicitly evolutionary perspective and ask why tropical islands are so often characterized by high local endemism and adaptive radiation.
- History of disturbance and land use in the Caribbean. The Caribbean represents a unique ecological setting in the neotropics in that it has been subject to high historic levels of natural and anthropogenic disturbance. In the course, we will learn how the history of natural disturbance, land use, and the introduction of non-native species has played a role in the ecology and evolution of Puerto Rico’s flora and fauna.
- Conservation of Caribbean species. Many species of plants and animals in the Caribbean, terrestrial and marine alike, are under severe threat. In the course students will learn about threats to species conservation in the Caribbean, as well as measures that can be taken to protect endemic Caribbean plants and animals.
While the course will focus on the three topical areas above, students will visit six different, all uniquely tropical, ecosystems that can be found in Puerto Rico: tropical rainforest, cloud forest, mesic karst forest, tropical dry forest, mangrove, and coastal marine. Students will learn about the species and ecological processes that characterize each setting, as well as the environmental threats to the ecosystems. In addition, students will work in groups to design, implement, and write up several field-based projects over the duration of the course.
|Jan 4, Friday||Arrival: San Juan|
|Jan 5-12 (Sa-Sa)||El Yunque Forest. Stay at El Verde field station.|
|Jan 12-16 (Sa-W)||Guajataca Forest & North Coast|
|Jan 16-18 (W-F)||Guanica Forest|
|Jan 18-25 (F-F)||Vieques Island|
|Jan 25 (F)||Return to San Juan for return to Boston|
Students will earn a total of 4 credits, including one laboratory credit, in the following course:
- BIOL 381, Special Topics: Caribbean Tropical Biology
Liam J. Revell
University of Massachusetts Boston
Alberto R. Puente-Rolón
Universidad Interamericana Recinto Arecibo
Please be advised that international programs are subject to change, slight or major, at any time due to circumstances beyond our control; this includes any and all fees, dates, itinerary, and program activities. We will do our best to inform all applicants of any changes in as timely a manner as possible.